The angel of the Lord to shepherds guarding their flocks nearby:
“Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
Luke 1:8-14 NIV
Soon after, the baby Jesus was taken to the temple in Jerusalem by his parents, Mary and Joseph. They dedicated Jesus to the Lord, according to Jewish Law.
Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
The world may prefer to take Jesus out of Christmas, but Almighty God places Baby Jesus right smack-dab in the middle of his biblical account of Christmas. Without Jesus we would not have:
God With Us
Peace to all nations
Mercy toward mankind – God’s Pleasure
Light to all nations
It’s all there. God revealed in the flesh. No word of a holiday or festivity on earth. Just God doing his business on time as he promised. Just a little something to bring us GREAT JOY.
It seems that God’s mercy is for everyone. Our Father God’s secretive plan is now revealed to Paul. Clearly, God’s chosen people, the Hebrews, will be reinstated into spiritual fellowship with Himself via a circuitous route. Since Jesus has been rejected by many of the Jews, God extends His mercy to include the Gentiles. Oh my! Such a thing must have been unthinkable back then!
30Once, you Gentiles were rebels against God, but when the people of Israel rebelled against Him, God was merciful to you instead. ~ Romans 11:30
But don’t think proudly that Gentiles are greater than Hebrews; for the mystery Paul talks about in verses 25-26 is that the Israelites will again turn to their Almighty God for salvation in Jesus once the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ.
31Now they (Hebrews) are the rebels, and God’s mercy has come to you (Gentiles) so that they, too, will share in God’s mercy. 32For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so He could have mercy on everyone. ~ Romans 11:31-32
Why was this kept a secret by God throughout the centuries? The answer could be as simple as God not allowing Satan in on the secret – loose lips and all that.
33Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His ways! 34 For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give Him advice? 35 And who has given Him so much that He needs to pay it back? ~Romans 11:33-35
Thank you, Lord, for including me in that number of fullness. I am convinced that it is the most merciful, sacred, and secret number. Even your prophets were never told.
May that number be so large that Heaven has to be enlarged to hold us.
Father, may it be as Your will dictates.
36For everything comes from Him and exists by His power and is intended for His glory. All glory to Him forever! Amen ~Romans 11:33-36